Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Lodge of Twilight

In the current Age of Valtyr there exist many different factions and groups vying to entice the industrious and adventurous alike into their ranks. Many such guilds thrive off the donations and support such additions give their cause. However, every once in a while there comes a group that does not try to advertise their position, is not concerned with gaining new members, and is quite content to remain small and spend their days perfecting their craft. Although many watch as these splinter groups come and go, there is one that has persisted and, ironically, gained an underground following as a result: the Lodge of Twilight.

Established nearly 100 years ago, in the year 2756, the Lodge of Twilight began as two friends who met weekly for morning tea. Sebastian Kale and Virgil L’deyr had been friends ever since boyhood. When Sebastian followed his calling to join the ranks of the Brotherhood monks, his good friend Virgil was there to cheer him on. And when Virgil suddenly found himself possessed of the gift to see the Voss on his 14th birthday, Sebastian supported him even when Virgil was too frightened to make much sense of his new power. The two boys grew into fine young men and kept up their tradition of meeting every week at Yorberth and Munsin’s Tea Shoppe in Tessali where they had been born and raised.

As Sebastian and Virgil grew into their own power, they learned of their respective organizations’ dislike for the other. Sebastian learned of the Brotherhood’s concern of the Nezr√ľn threat and the menace that sorcery could cause the people of Valtyr, as evidenced by Xanith’s Curse. Virgil, on the other hand, heard of the tales of stolen artifacts secreted away within Brotherhood vaults and the threat that the gods posed, as evident from the Lords of Shadow in the Great War. Despite their factions’ distrust of the other, both Sebastian and Virgil saw it fit to continue their friendship and often dove into great theological and magical debates over their tea and cakes.

After years of discussions, both men realized something. Perhaps it was not the gods, nor magic, that was the problem. Perhaps the real issue lay with the guilds to which they each belonged. It seemed to both of them that the Citadel and the Brotherhood Church were clouded by a need to be right and exert influence over the other. It was on one particular week, when the men were sharing their tea, that Virgil offered an unusual proposal: leave their groups behind and explore something together.

Sebastian sipped his tea, lost in thought, and Virgil feared he had offended his friend, but then he watched as a great grin spread across Sebastian’s face. The monk agreed that perhaps this was the true will of the gods, to be free of the chains of history and set out to create something new. Virgil readily agreed and offered that his sorcery might be emboldened by new methods and practices, which could lead to new and unknown benefits to mankind.

The two men started their own secret society and called it the Lodge of Twilight. The name had as much to do with where they had come from (day being commonly associated with Lassic, the chief god of Sebastian’s order, and night being a time of great study and importance for Virgil’s Citadel work) as it did with where they were headed (someplace in between).

The two friends spent months studying ways to combine sorcery and faith into a new form of power. They set out with the goal that whatever they created, it should serve mankind’s sense of spirit and creative vision. They felt that the Lodge of Twilight should stand for self-expression free from politics as much as possible. In the end, it was their combined talents that birthed the modern practices of Alchemy as we know it.

Although alchemy had existed prior, it was little understood and selfishly guarded by the Order of the Unbroken Circle within the Citadel. With Virgil’s help and Sebastian’s alterations, the two men elaborated on the core principles of alchemy and expanded the craft greatly. Within weeks, they were creating new potions, powders and salves that had never been seen before. What was more, the alchemical objects they made were more potent that Virgil had first expected.

Needing a way to make a living, Sebastian suggested selling the wares at the local bazaar. After one week of offering their goods, the two men were a hit with some of the local customers. Many began to flock to the Twilight stall and seek their wares. Unfortunately, the attention was not all good, and soon the Citadel and Brotherhood got wind of their actions. Threatened with excommunication and imprisonment, Sebastian and Virgil fled Tessali on a caravan headed south to Oronoch, never to return.

After several months of travel and stops, word of the “amazing alchemists” began to reach more ears. Before they knew it, students and scholars alike began to show up at their inn rooms and waystation stalls, asking for tutoring or wishing to share their own discoveries. At first the two staunchly refused to entertain the notion of taking on a following, but after time and listening to the marvelous tales of those they had inspired, they came to realize that they had begun to do what they had always talked about over tea – to offer their fellow man something creative and free from past prejudices. Alchemy was a way to unite others like them that had become disillusioned with the Citadel or the Brotherhood. It also offered like-minded individuals a focus for their budding talents.

In 2758, Sebastian and Virgil opened the first official chapter of the Lodge of Twilight. They maintained strict rules for new entries, but no longer refused such offers. They also kept the locations of their new guild a secret, lest the Citadel or Brotherhood find them out and seek to lead an inquisition against them and their followers.

Since that time, the Lodge of the Twilight has spread into parts or Syr, T’zarak and Fyron, although they maintain the strongest presence in Rynell where the guild was founded. While rumors occasionally surface of chapter houses opening in the south, no official records of the Lodge are known to exist in T’lranen, Corval, or Mierg. The Lodge lives by only one tenet: explore the science of alchemy in new and interesting ways, divorced of politics or prejudice. Given the Lodge’s recent claim to fame as masters within the alchemical art, the Citadel bears no love for the guild and openly seeks to defame their work as “uncontrolled experiments” wherever they go. Likewise, the Brotherhood denounces the Lodge’s practices as “unorthodox” and refuses to acknowledge the group as a viable entity.

The secret recipes, tomes and practices of the Lodge of Twilight are well-guarded secrets. Their members might be willing to sell their creations to the right buyer, but few (if any) would ever give up the secrets to these crafts. To those who join, alchemy has much more to offer than it currently is and the Twilight Alchemists (as they are sometimes called) are dedicated to seeing just what those offerings might be.

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